Social Media, Confidentiality, Wikileaks and Generational Disparity

In the recruitment world over the last twelve months much has been written about privacy concerns and social media. Should potential employers source additional and sometimes irrelevant additional material about potential employees? It’s largely an academic argument as many employers will do it regardless.

Many industry commentators, including myself have noticed that Gen Y employees, i.e. younger employees brought up in the connected internet world seem to be less concerned about privacy than those of us a generation or two ahead of them.

It seems to me that many corporations and governments have not caught onto this yet, most likely due to the fact they are largely run by those of older generations, Gen X and Baby Boomers, who still don’t entirely “get” the internet. Gen Y are brought up consciously or even subconsciously knowing that what they post online stays online and they are largely aware of the potential consequences of that.

The recent Wikileaks hysteria is a case in point. Julian Assange and his organisation have published many deep, dark government secrets they seem to have acquired via leaks within the US government. The potential for mass circulation of embarrassing information is making many people in important positions uncomfortable. Assange claims his next leaks will be from some major corporates, US banks in particular.

Perhaps the hysteria is due to the fact that the organisations affected by Wikileaks are led by those older generations who have suddenly had their dirty laundry exposed to the world. Suddenly they now “get” the internet, and they don’t like it. “What goes on behind closed doors should stay there,” is the message we’re receiving, which only serves to highlight the disparity in the generational views on what is or should remain confidential.

If our governments and corporations were led by Gen Ys would they be having the same tantrums? One thing’s for certain, our current crop of Gen Ys will one day run the world, and it’s likely that when that happens it will be a much more open and transparent place.

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